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not? O no! Your perfidiousness aggravateth your Eccl. v. 4, 5. sin and misery.
When thou vowest a vow to God, defer not to pay it ; for he hath no pleasure in fools : pay that which thou hast vowed ; better it is that thou shouldest not vow, than that thou shouldest vow and not pay. O bless the Lord, that it is a covenant of such grace which is tendered to you ; that, upon true repentance and conversion, even your covenant-breaking shall be forgiven : and therefore, penitently cast down yourselves before the Lord, and believingly cast yourselves on Christ, and yield to the teachings and sanctifying operations of the Holy Ghost. Yet know the day of your visitation, and forsake the flesh, the devil, and the world, and turn to God with all your hearts, and give up yourselves entirely to your Creator, Redeemer, and Sanctifier ; and he will have mercy upon you, and will abundantly pardon you. But if you still live after the flesh, you shall die : and if you continue to neglect this great salvation, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sin, but a certain fearful looking for of judgment, and fire, which shall devour the adversaries.
Let no children be privately baptized, nor any Minister forced to baptize them anywhere, besides in the public
assembly, unless upon some special weighty cause. If there be occasion for baptizing the adult, let the Minister accordingly suit his expressions.
Of Catechising, and the Approbation of those that
are to be admitted to the Lord's Supper. SEEING none can be saved at years of discretion, that do not actually believe, and personally give up themselves in covenant to God the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost; therefore, as parents must do their parts, so ministers must catechise the ignorant, and diligently labour to cause them both to learn the form of wholesome words, (even the Lord's Prayer, and the Ten Commandments, and some brief, yet full and sound, Catechism ;) and to understand the meaning of them, and to engage their hearts into the love of God, and a holy obedience to his laws.
To this end, let the minister, either every Lord'sday, before the Evening Prayers, or at some convenient hour, or on some other day of the week, as oft as he can, examine publicly such as are not admitted to the Lord's Supper, and take an acco nt of their learning, and understanding the Creed, the Ten Commandments, the Lord's Prayer, and the Catechism. And let him, by questioning and explication, help them to understand them ; and let such of the several families of the parish come in their turns, when they are called by the minister to be thus catechised. Also, let the minister either go to their houses, or rather appoint the persons aforesaid in their courses, at a certain hour and place, (in the church or any other fit place,) to come to him for personal instructions, where he may confer with those that are unmeet to be catechised publicly, or unwilling to submit to it; and there with humble, prudent, serious instruction and exhortation, let him endeavour to acquaint them with the substance of Christian faith and duty, and to help them to make sure their calling and election, and to prepare for death and judgment, and exhort them to love and to good works, and warn them lest they be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin. But let him not, in public or private, meddle with impertinencies, or spend the time about smaller matters, or singular opinions, nor sift people to know things unfit or unnecessary to be disclosed, nor meddle with matters that do not concern him as a minister to inquire after ; but help them to learn, and understand, and practise the Christian religion expressed in the Catechism.
Let none be admitted by the minister See the Rubric
Catechism to the Sacrament of the Lord's Supper, till they have, at years of discretion, tion in the Comunderstood the meaning of their baptis- also his Majes
mon mal covenant; and with their own ty's Declaration mouths, and their own consent, openly
concerning Ecbefore the Church, ratified and con- fairs. firmed, and also promised, that by the grace of God they will evermore endeavour themselves faithfully to observe and keep such things as by their own mouth and confession they have assented to; and so, being instructed in the Christian religion, do openly make a credible profession of their own faith, and promise to be obedient to the will of God.
A profession is credible, when it is made understandingly, seriously, voluntarily, deliberately; and not nullified by contradiction in word or deed. And that profession is incredible, that is made ignorantly, ludicrously, forcedly, rashly, or that is nullified by verbal or practical contradiction. And it must be practice first, that must make words credible, when the person by perfidiousness hath forfeited his credit. It is not private persons only, but the pastors of the Church that must approve of this profession. Therefore, before any are admitted to the Lord's Supper, they shall give a good account of their knowledge, faith, and Christian conversation conformable thereunto, unto the pastors of their respective congregations; or else shall produce a certificate, that they have been approved or admitted to the Lord's Supper in another congregation, of which they were members, and that by an allowed minister, upon such approved profession as aforesaid.
If the person be able and willing, let him before the congregation give the aforesaid account at large, of his knowledge, faith, and obedience: but if, through backwardness, or disability for public speech, he shall refuse it, let him make the same profession privately to the minister, and own it in the assembly, when the minister shall declare it, and ask him whether he owns it. But unless it be in case of some extraordinary natural imperfection, and disability of utterance, let him at least openly recite the Creed, and profess his consent to the covenant with God the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.
Let the minister of every parish keep a double